Is Professor Dent Wearing James Bond’s Shirt?

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When James Bond visits Professor Dent, played by Anthony Dawson, in his lab in Dr. No, Dent is in his shirtsleeves with the sleeves casually rolled up. The shirt is pale blue poplin with a cutaway collar, cocktail cuffs and a front placket. Do these details sound like someone else’s shirts in Dr. No? It sounds a lot like most of the shirts that Sean Connery wears as James Bond in the film.

There’s something off about Dent’s shirt: the body of the shirt is far too large. While the typical English bespoke shirt of the 1960s did not follow the shape of the body like a bespoke shirt is expected to today, it still was meant to neatly hang from the body. Sean Connery’s shirts in Dr. No fit as a traditional bespoke shirt would, with the proper collar size, cuff diameter, sleeve length, chest size and shoulder width. The cut was very full, but not as full as Dent’s shirt. Dent’s shirt is clearly too large in the shoulders and chest, with the shoulders three inches too wide and bunching excess fabric at the sides of the chest. The sleeves may be too long for him, which may be one reason why they are rolled up. But since he is working in a lab, rolled-up sleeves would be practical in any case.

Bond’s and Dent’s shirts share more than the same pale blue colour.

Under the suit that Dent wears at the Queen’s Club, the poor fit of this shirt goes unnoticed. As a member of the Queen’s Club, Dent would be a well-off man and expected to wear well-fitting bespoke shirts, though he doesn’t seem like the type who would care if his shirts fit poorly if they could be hidden under a suit.

Though this shirt was not made for Anthony Dawson, this has to be a bespoke shirt. It is highly unlikely that any ready-to-wear shirt in 1962 would have had cocktail cuffs. Few shirts with cocktail cuffs at the time were made for men other than James Bond. Though this cuff had been around long before Dr. No, it was James Bond who popularised the cuff. Considering that this shirt is almost identical to the shirt that Sean Connery is wearing opposite Dawson in this scene, and the wide shoulders and large chest would likely be the perfect size for Connery, my guess is that Dawson’s shirt was made for Connery.

Showing off the cocktail cuff shirt with a suit in an earlier scene

With Dr. No’s low budget of one million dollars, the production cut corners in many areas (the money wasn’t all spent on Dr. No’s fish tank). Bespoke shirts for supporting characters were likely not part of the budget. Putting Dawson in a shirt made for Connery would be a cost-saving measure in any case. Dawson and Connery were the same height (6’2″) and probably had a similar neck size, so it’s not out of the question that they could have shared shirts. Dawson didn’t have Connery’s athletic build, but that didn’t stop the wardrobe department from outfitting Dawson in another man’s larger shirts.

As mentioned before, Dawson’s shirt is pale blue poplin with a cutaway collar and cocktail cuffs, which is the same colour and style as Connery’s shirts. Their shirts also both have shoulder pleats. There is only one noticeable difference between Dawson’s shirt and Connery’s shirt: the cocktail cuff design. The cuffs are very similar, both with a rounded cutaway, but Dawson’s cuff has a contour at the fold that Connery’s Turnbull & Asser cuff does not have. The contour allows Dawson’s cuff to lay flatter against the wrist, while Connery’s cuff rolls away from the wrist. The placket on Dawson’s shirt is also slightly wider.

Shirtmaker Frank Foster himself told me that he made shirts for Sean Connery for Dr. No. This could be one of those shirts. That would explain the difference in the Turnbull and Asser cuff design and placket width. Frank Foster may have made this shirt as a backup for Connery, and at a lower cost than Turnbull & Asser. Connery may wear one of these alternate shirts in the film, but I have not been able to spot this flat-folded cuff design on Connery. Roger Moore wears the same cuff design in the final series of The Saint.

Dent wears cream linen trousers with this shirt in his lab. The trousers have single reverse pleats, tapered legs and are pressed with a crisp crease. These trousers have belt loops, and Dent wears a dark brown belt with them. They are detailed with slanted side pockets, a rear right flap pocket and a rear left jetted button-through pocket. The hems are plain. Dent also wears cream slip-on shoes that have seams that extend from the topline, down around the toe and back up to the top, like a Clarks Wallabee. The shoes have brown soles and heels. His socks are light blue to match the shirt.

Though linen trousers are ideal for Jamaica—better than Bond’s woollen flannel trousers—they wrinkle plenty. Wrinkled trousers, along with a wrinkled and oversized shirt, give Dent both the look of a professor who cares more about his work than his appearance as well as hint at his sloppiness in his work for Dr. No. Bond’s pristine look, by comparison, shows him as the man who would later be better prepared to take on Dent in a fight.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Fascinating! It makes a lot of sense for them to do that. They could have gotten away using a ready made shirt on him, but they probably didn’t even want to spare that small expense if the two had similar neck sizes. Always thought the cocktail cuffs looked odd on a man who, as you succinctly put it, “cares more about his work than his appearance”.

  2. Do you have a higher resolution photo of Professor Dent’s shoes? They almost look like something halfway between a driving moccasin and a boat shoe, with the high vamp and slip on fit of a driver but with a low heel attached to a one piece sole like a boat shoe, rather than the flat, two piece sole you usually find on a driver.

  3. Very interesting. I think it’s worth mentioning that Dawson was a close personal friend of Terence Young ( he mentioned in a commentary that he always tried to give him work in any film he directed). I had always wondered if, in the Queen’s club scene, he was wearing a shirt that Young had given him from his collection, as Young himself often wore cocktail cuffs.

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